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Israel drops leaflets in Syrian Golan warning military to cut ties with Iran

Fliers come after alleged Israeli airstrikes on Iranian-linked sites in Syria, amid heightened tensions along the border

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Israeli army forces seen stationed near the border between Israel and Lebanon in the Golan Heights on July 27, 2020. (David Cohen/Flash90)
Israeli army forces seen stationed near the border between Israel and Lebanon in the Golan Heights on July 27, 2020. (David Cohen/Flash90)

The Israel Defense Forces dropped leaflets in the Syrian Golan Heights on Wednesday warning the country’s military to halt its cooperation with Iran and the Hezbollah terror group, Syrian media reported.

The move came hours after Israel reportedly conducted a number of airstrikes in southern Syria, including in the Syrian Golan. Photos of the leaflets were posted to social media on Wednesday morning.

“We will not allow anyone to upset the stability here,” read the fliers, which were stamped with an eagle, the symbol of the IDF’s 210th Division, which guards the Golan border.

The military added that it will “take action against Hezbollah and Iranian operatives at any time, as needed.”

The leaflets also referred to what Israel says was a recent attempt to set off explosive charges against IDF soldiers near the Syrian border. Jerusalem has accused Iran of being behind the attempted attack.

“Hezbollah and Iran, as we have seen in recent years, are using (Syrian) military sites, military personnel and Syrian civilians unwittingly and carrying out their terrorist missions against the State of Israel,” the IDF wrote.

The military dropped similar leaflets last month and has done so several times over the years during periods of heightened tensions along the border.

Late Tuesday night, the Israeli military bombed a number of targets in southern Syria, striking areas associated with Iran and its proxies, Syrian state media reported.

The official SANA news agency reported that Israel launched a series of airstrikes at 11:50 p.m. on sites in the countryside south of Damascus and on a village just south of Quneitra near Israel’s border with Syria on the Golan Heights. Both of those areas have long been alleged to be Iranian strongholds in Syria and have been bombed by Israel in the past.

There was no comment from the Israel Defense Forces, which generally maintains a policy of ambiguity regarding its activities against Iran and its proxies in Syria, refusing to publicly acknowledge its specific actions in the country while generally acknowledging conducting operations there.

SANA reported that the Israeli strikes caused only material damage. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a pro-Syrian opposition organization of uncertain funding, said that eight pro-Iranian fighters were killed in the overnight attacks. That could not be immediately verified. The group has regularly been accused by Syrian war analysts of inflating casualty numbers, as well as inventing them wholesale.

Syrian news outlets reported that one of the strikes hit targets near the village of Ruwayhinah, just east of the border with Israel near Quneitra. Israel has accused the Hezbollah terror group of establishing a base of operations in that area.

An Iron Dome anti-missile battery is seen in the Golan Heights near the border with Syria on November 18, 2020. (Jalaa Marey/AFP)

The Tuesday night strikes also reportedly targeted a site in the village of Jabal al-Mane, south of Damascus, an area that has in the past been reportedly used by Iran as a base of operations for its proxies in Syria. On July 20, Israel allegedly bombed a weapons depot in that area that was being used by Iranian proxies.

The reported attacks came a week after a large round of strikes claimed by Israel in response to what Jerusalem said was a failed Iranian explosives attack on the Golan Heights.

The day before, IDF combat engineers disarmed three anti-personnel mines within Israeli territory, near the Syrian border, which the military believes were planted by Syrian nationals on behalf of Iran several weeks before.

Israel views a permanent Iranian military presence in Syria as an unacceptable threat, which it will take military action to prevent.

The IDF has launched hundreds of strikes in Syria since the start of the civil war in 2011 against moves by Iran to establish a permanent military presence in the country and efforts to transport advanced, game-changing weapons to terrorist groups in the region, principally Hezbollah.

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